The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace & Justice
As an accompaniment to the book Just Mercy I highly recommend a trip to The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace & Justice (also known as the Lynching Museum) in Montgomery, AL. Both institutions were founded by EJI and opened to the public in April 2018.
With The National Memorial to Peace & Justice, EJI set out to document every lynching in the U.S. between 1877, the end of reconstruction, and 1950. They found records of over 4,000 incidents in twelve southern states and 300 in other states.
You have probably seen the photos of The National Memorial to Peace & Justice, which is a dramatic outdoor park on six acres. There is an open pavilion lined with 800 six-foot-tall steel columns each representing a county or state in which a lynching took place and the name of at least one victim. Tennessee is well represented. Initially the columns are positioned at eye level, but as one approaches the center of the complex, the columns gradually rise until they are suspended high above the visitor.
The Legacy Museum, which is located next door to the EJI offices, and a block or two from the square where slave auctions were held, traces the legacy of slavery through to the present mass incarceration of black men, also a theme of Just Mercy. The material is brilliantly displayed and researched, and easy to follow.
Montgomery is not the most convenient or alluring destination, but a visit to these two institutions is worth a trip.